Team CSC management are big believers in the merits of training camps. After their July 2005 training camp Allan Johansen and Christian Müller followed up on their week of hard labour in the Austrian hills by winning two stages in the Sachsen Tour - a two-trick feat that Andy Schleck repeated this year. During the second part of last season, the team performed strongly in the Tour of Denmark, the Hew Classic, the Benelux Tour, the Tour de l'Avenir and the Vuelta. CSC manager Bjarne Riis likes to keep a winning formula, as Sabine Sunderland found out.
After having taken the team to Denmark for a training camp in December, followed by a 10-day meeting in Tuscany in January and a fine-tuning training session of another ten days in Solvang, California in February, training camps might have become a bit of a drag for the riders you'd think. But not for the CSC riders.
While Carlos Sastre and his team-mates were doing an outstanding job in the Tour de France, DS Scott Sunderland again got handed the responsibility to plan the seven days of intense training for the rest of the squad.
"There's several factors which contribute to an efficient training camp," said Sunderland. "The location, what the weather will be like in that area, the training parcours, the ease of travel to and from the hotel and so on. You need to synchronise everything to make sure that you have all ingredients in place for a smooth run. It does take some serious planning."
Sunderland gathered the CSC troops at The Radisson SAS Balmoral hotel in Spa, Belgium. Nestled amidst the lovely forests of the Belgian Ardennes, it is a charming and cosy four-star hotel. Spa, famous for its natural thermal springs was no doubt an ideal location to put some long and hilly kilometres in and ride some of the well-known climbs of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege parcours in preparation for the second part of the season.
Director Sportif Dan Frost, mechanics, soigneurs and the 22 riders arrived on the afternoon on Sunday the 9th of July. The majority of the riders were coming off a rest period after already having raced 60-70 days this season. A few were still on the road to recovery after injury or illness.
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